Strawberry and Mint Wine Cooler

July 11, 2012

Now that the heat wave is officially over (fingers crossed), it’s time to pull out your favorite recliner into the yard, pick up an alcoholic drink, and station yourself in the yard with all those back issues of ‘Vegetarian Times’ for the next month. Oh wait, or is that just something I do?

One of my summer goals was to experiment with new cocktails. I’ve enjoyed Tequila Sunrises and Dark & Stormys at the bars but what about experimenting at home? It’s already July and I’ve posted about…ONE cocktail. Not okay. Come on, get with it! To catch up for lost time I made TWO cocktails this weekend and am oh so excited to show them with you!

This simple wine cooler was something super easy that I made to spice up the plain white wine I was indulging in. Really, it’s not even a cocktail…but just a fun way to jazz up your drink. Heck, you could use sparkling water or sprite or champagne (oh!) instead of the white wine.

 

Strawberry Mint Wine Cooler

  • 1 bottle of your favorite white wine
  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • a handful of mint leaves, torn slightly (to release extra flavor)
  • 1 cup carbonated/seltzer water (to make it fizzzzy and refreshing!)

Combine all ingredients in a pitch and serve over ice. Enjoy on your porch couch or hammock while watching your amusing puppy play in the yard.

Blog Nerd

July 10, 2012

My apologies for two posts in a row without a recipe but since my internet is still in limbo at our new house, I am forced to the limits of my cellphone. Ah well, this gives me an excuse to mix it up and get outside of my comfort zone with posts not directly related to food.

Anyhow, so as I’ve mentioned many times…I am a bit of a blogging nerd. I absolutely love learning blogging tips and reading other people’s perspectives on the blogging world. Even if I take a class and only learn one or two things, I find it very rewarding. Heck, it is just awesome to see people get enthusiastic about the same things I am enthusiastic about!

A while back I took Elsie’s blog class and then I took Blogging 2.0 last month. However, now that Blogging 2.0 is over…I am already on the look out for more blogging classes! That is what led me to coming across ALT design classes. The cool thing about these classes is the fact that they are super affordable and each topic has a different teacher so you can get a wide array of perspectives on different aspects.

And guess what!? Bing is offering to give you classes for free through their campaign here. Why would you NOT take free classes?

I am so excited to take:

Graphic Design for Bloggers
How to Use Illustrations to Make Your Brand Yours
Content is King

Moody Monday: Extra Extra Long Weekend

July 9, 2012

Well, I hope everyone had a fantastic previous week and a great 4th of July. After five wonderful days of sleeping in, lying around the house, and getting to know my new kitchen…it is back to work. Ah, oh well.

I may still be posting a little less this week because we are still lacking in internet at our new house and I don’t always feeling like trekking my laptop down to the local coffee shop (although my bike has a little basket that fits my laptop perfectly so I really should not be complaining). This is such a shame because I made soooo many yummy things over my long vacation and I cannot wait to share them with you!

 

Here are a few snapshots from the long weekend: We watched the 4th of July fireworks in a big ‘ol, wide open, corn field (ooooh, Indiana). Also, Tuko and I indulged in many afternoon naps on our new couch so that we could enjoy the outsides late at night when it was cooler. Oh, and lastly that is my tomato plan with its first few signs of color! Yay!!

Well, I hope everyone has a great week ahead and I will hopefully be posting some delicious recipes in no time!

Vegan Blueberry and Peach Cobbler Cake

July 6, 2012

I am feeling a bit off because I am writing you from my favorite coffee shop, Soma, instead of my usual spot; this is because we are officially moved into our new home and are currently without internet. But really, it is okay because Soma littered with inspiration: from its Iced Chaikovsky (Chai + Coffee), maps paper mached all over the walls, and TV fish tanks- it is nothing short of a creative mecca.

Speaking of our new home being without thing…this is officially day 6 of my new life without a microwave. It has been going very well so far. Wyatt and I have decided to try to “untrain” ourselves from nuking thing in the microwave (see why here) and instead turn to the oven/on the stove top to warm things up. Wyatt was not happy about his coffee going cold the other morning (ohhh, the drawbacks of using a french press) but if that ends up being our biggest problem then I think we shall survive.

Oh, Yes! And back to the recipe! I decided to try this cobbler cake instead of a regular cobbler because we were having people over for a grill out and my thought was that it would be way easier for guests to just grab a square instead of messing with scooping a cobbler into bowls and getting spoons and what not. It was a huge success! The stuff was REALLY REALLY delicious. If possible, I think it may have been even better the next day because the humidity is so high in the Midwest right now that it made the cake moist enough to melt in your mouth. Ah, heaven!

And totally feel free to mix in whatever fruit you’d like or have on hand. I adapted this from ButterMeUpBrooklyn and she didn’t even specify a fruit to use.

Blueberry and Peach Cobbler Cake

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons earth balance, cut into chunks
  • dash of vanilla
  • 1 cup blueberries (I used fresh but I am sure you can use frozen as well)
  • 1 peach, pitted and cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine the almond milk and lemon juice. Set aside and let it curdle (you are making vegan buttermilk right now!) for about 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinmamon, and nutmeg together. Toss in the Earth Balance and use your fingers to work into the dry ingredients. Next, fold in the fruit. And finally, fold in the buttermilk just until everything is combined (you don’t want to over mix!).

Pour into your prepared pan and bake for about 3o minutes or until you can stick a tooth pick in the center and it comes out clean. Sprinkle the top with the brown sugar.

Let cool and then slice into squares.

Serve to all your friends and watch at how excited they are about your new twist on cobbler!

June Wrap Up

July 2, 2012

Well Mondays are when I usually post about being moody …but let’s be real: I have a TWO day week since my company is giving us Wednesday through Friday off for the 4th of July… so do I really have that much to complain about? I think not.

Instead, since July snuck up on us over the weekend let’s have a June Wrap up instead!

My favorite posts from this past month:

1. I am a picnic fanatic and had soooo much fun enjoying these Southwestern Veggie Sliders with Avocado Mayo while soaking up some fresh air on a lovely dinner picnic with my puppy and boyfriend

2.I am not sure where you live but this 100 degree weather refuses to let up over here in Bloomington, Indiana. Popsicles like these Berry Mango Yogurt Pops are the only things keeping me cool when I attempt to adventure outdoors.

3. Oh! My adventure with this Summer Potato Salad was pure bliss! Potato salad just screams summer and this was a great way to kick off our first grill out of the season!

4. Pizza Pizza Pizza. I cannot escape it no matter how bad I tell myself it is! I’ve come to accept this and have at least turned to making my own pizza so that I know exactly what goes into it. This Savory Breakfast Pizza was part of a two segment post that also included yummy Blueberry Lime Pizza.

In other news, June was ridiculously busy with us moving into our new house (which we are still not completely settled into) and being out of town for almost every weekend.

Also, I managed to learn a lot from my Blogging 2.0 class (which ends this week!) and can’t wait to start applying what I learned to VV.

And onto July! What to expect? Well I am hoping to spend July settling into our new place; this means starting to make lots of new memories at our new home in the form of cocktail parties, movie nights, and creative time in our new studio. I am very excited for things to calm down around here so we can enjoy the simple pleasures of summer (now if only this 100 degree weather would calm down a bit…).

 

Summer Vegetable Calzones

June 28, 2012

Oh! Do you remember those delicious pizzas I made here? Well, I froze the rest of the dough and made calzones out of it yesterday! It was oh so yummy and a great way to get versatile with the dough. I don’t know about you guys but we eat pizza A LOT over here so it’s nice to  mix it up. However, since I stuck eggs and blueberries on top of our pizzas last week, I promised Wyatt that I would keep these simple. BUT believe me- next time I will be throwing in pesto, potato slices, feta, thyme, and gouda! Not a doubt in the world.

In non-food related news, we are ALMOST moved into our home and are shooting for Sunday to be our official “all moved in” date (if this 100 degree weather subsides). Honestly, we just have a bunch of clothes and plants to transfer to the place and we are set. We even slept in our new bed for the first time last night- it was like we were at a slumber party because the place does not feel like home yet. Exciting (but kind of scary!) stuff going on around here.

Summer Vegetable Calzones

Makes 4

  • 1 Pizza Dough
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 cups mozzerella cheese
  • 1 yellow zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

If you are using dough that you froze, make sure to take it out of the fridge at least four hours before and cover it in an oiled bowl. Set it in a warm place to rise and do it’s thing.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute. Next, add in the onion, pepper, and zucchini and sauté until the vegetables are tender (I cooked them for about ten minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. Use a floured surface and rolling pin to roll out 4 circles (or ovals). Divide the veggie mixture into 4 parts and make a line in the center of each dough piece with them. Next, do the same for the sauce, basil, and cheeses. Finally, fold over the dough and seal by pressing a fork along the edges. I then rolled the edges to make them look pretty but it does not matter as long as it’s sealed.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Enjoy warm and gooey!

Quinoa Primavera

June 26, 2012

As an attempt to cure my pizza hangover (symptoms included but were not limited to lethargy, lack of desire to wear ‘going out’ clothes, food baby, etc), I decided we need a healthy dinner to counteract all the over eating lately.

This recipe was my answer. It’s a rather weird one because it basically replaces pasta with quinoa to create a “healthified” twist an Italian classic. So why quinoa, you ask? Well it’s considered the “superfood” of grains (it is a…seed?) because it is a complete protein (contains all the essential amino acids), has twice as much fiber as other grains, and is low in fat. And, if that doesn’t sell you then maybe it’s light texture and quick prep time will win you over!

Regardless, this was a super easy and delicious recipe that I managed to whip up in about 20 minutes. To make it even healthier (and vegan!) feel free to omit the cheese (but that will compromise the slight creaminess that the cream cheese gives it.)

Also, it made for delicious leftover to bring to work the next day!

 

Quinoa Primavera

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 3 cups zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup orange pepper, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan

 Start by bringing the vegetable broth to a simmer. Cook quinoa for 15 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese and basil. Cover and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.

In a medium skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium. Add in the garlic and saute for about a minute. Next, add in the zucchini, onion, and pepper and cook until very softened (I did mine for about 15 minutes but you can judge it on how crispy or softened you like yours!). Season with salt and pepper and add into the quinoa mixture.

Serve warm with some delicious rose sangria and a baguette.

Moody Monday: Move In Time

June 25, 2012

Why hellooooooooooooo, Monday….not gonna lie, I was not prepared for you! We spent all weekend moving (drove 10 hours between Friday and Saturday to pick up furniture in Chicago) and I feel like I have been going non-stop since we got the new place two weeks ago!

Anyways, no need to complain! I love it and I really do enjoy redecorating and making the place our own. Although a big portion of the weekend was spent putting together ikea furniture, we did managed to find some time to have a little fun!

 

Top Left: We have “happy hours” at work on most Fridays. It’s always a great way to start off the weekend and last Friday they brought in ice cream and root beer for a “Root Beer Float Happy Hour”. It was a great change of pace from the beers they usually supply.

Top Right: Movin’ Movin’ Movin’. We managed to fit our entire living and bedroom in Wyatt’s car to bring down from Chicago on Saturday.

Bottom Left: We took Sunday afternoon off and went out to the lake. Wyatt played chess with his brother and I swam in the lake with Tuko. It was a much needed break from the constant traveling we have been doing lately.

Bottom Right: And lastly, I took a quite walk to our local bookstore (Boxcar Books) and picked up some of these gems. Can’t wait to whip up a few of these recipes for my blog ASAP!

Breakfast Pizza Part 2: Blueberry Lime Pizza

June 21, 2012

And here we are…onto Part 2 of Breakfast Pizza! This one is a sweet pizza with layers of sweet crust, lime flavored cream cheese, and topped with blueberry syrup. Delicious? I’d say so!

There is something very elegant about mixing blueberry and lemon…it just feels like it would be the flavor you order at an expensive bakery or a wedding reception. But Blueberry lime? That is a whole different story! That screams “playful” to me and I immediately conger up images of laying on the beach in Key West or enjoying a waterfall picnic. Maybe that is just my skewed since of association but I’m stickin’ with it!

Blueberry Lime Breakfast Pizza

Sweet crust:

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/8 cup oats
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg

Blueberry sauce:

  • 2/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 Tablespoon potato starch (you can use cornstarch, as well)
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/8 cup warm water

Lime Cream Cheese Spread:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

 

In a small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast and let sit for about five minutes. In a mixing bowl with a bread hook attachment, toss in the ingredients for the crust and mix on low. Once combined, turn the speed up to medium and mix for about 5 minutes or until a gooey dough forms. Roll into a ball and place in a greased bowl; cover the bowl and let rise for about a half an hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out the dough and place in a 9 inch round pan. Bake for ten minutes or until golden brown.

To make the lemon cream cheese: cream together all the ingredients with a mixer until smooth. set aside while you make the blueberry sauce so the flavors can mend together.

And for the blueberry sauce: In a small saucepan, add blueberries, honey, and orange juice. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. In a small bowl, combine the warm water and starch together before adding it to the simmering mixture. Then combine all and simmer for a minute or two or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

Once everything has cooled, assemble by spreading the cream cheese on top of the crust and then topping with the blueberry sauce.

Enjoy immediately with other yummy pizzas and  while relaxing on the porch!

Tuko Loves the Internet (and the Internet Loves Him)

June 20, 2012

There are a few things I wanted to talk about today so I will be forgoing a recipe for this post (Sorry everyone who was excited about Breakfast Pizza Part 2 – will have to wait until tomorrow!).

Anyhow, I wanted to point out that Tuko is getting some love on Best Bully Sticks today! It’s an all natural dog biscuit company so hop on over to check it out adorable pictures of Tuko and healthy treats for your puppies!

Also, while we are on the topic of fun links, I learned so much this morning while breezing through my blog roll that I had to share a few a few things with you!

1. Have you seen the updated Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 for what to buy organic vs what to buy conventional?  I find it super useful because, although I would love to, I just can not afford to buy organic everything so this is a great guide for deciding what is worth spending a little extra cash on.

2. Joy The Baker did a super informative post yesterday on why we use unsalted butter for baking.

3. A great tip from the kitchn on using onions in salads:

Soaking onions in ice water for 10 or 15 minutes mellows out the flavor to take that sharp edge, and accompanying aftertaste, out of the picture. It’s a trick restaurants use, and you can achieve the same results, too.

Hope everyone is having a great Wednesday and see you tomorrow for part 2 of Breakfast Pizzas!

Breakfast Pizza Part 1: Savory Breakfast Pizza

June 19, 2012

I made a breakfast pizza “buffet” last night for dinner. I use this term “buffet” lightly because really…it was only 2 pizzas (a savory and a sweet) but that is a lot of pizza for two of us! I had spotted the original concept for this recipe on Smitten Kitchen months ago and knew I had to try it…eggs on a pizza, who would have thought? But the idea of mixing two of the best things (breakfast AND pizza) was just too tempting not to play with.

I had to trick Wyatt with this dish. We are a pizza-loving house and he wants to go out for pizza at least once a week. Once a week! I’ve tried to rationalize it by loading the pizzas with mounds of veggies but he finally complained that I put too much on them and now just insists on cheese. Never will you meet a couple that fights so much over pizza toppings! So, of course, you can only imagine the look on his face on Sunday night when he asked what I was making and I replied with pizza dough. Let’s just say it started out as a big grin then quickly turned into a suspicious glare and ended in the question “What are you putting on top of this pizza?”. I told him “breakfast. Mostly eggs”. He must have assumed this was a joke because it was dropped and the look on his mortified face when I cracked three eggs over the pizza dough the next day was absolutely priceless.

Luckily, he was hungry enough to eat whatever I put in front of him and not only did he eat one piece with egg on it, but he ate three! It was just that good! Imagine a delicious pizza crust as the toast and then lathered between the toast and egg is a layer of gooey cheese and spices. How can that be bad?

I also made a delicious blueberry lime pizza but you will have to wait until tomorrow for that recipe!

Savory Breakfast Pizza

Simple pizza dough:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon active yeast
  • 3 cups + 1 Tablespoon warm water

And for the toppings:

The night before: Whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast. Slowly add in the warm water and mix until just combined. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the mixture and knead until everything is incorporated (this shouldn’t take more than a minute or two). Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a rag. Let sit overnight so that the yeast can do its thing and double in size.

Once ready to make the pizza, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Divide the dough in half and either roll out two pizzas or save one of the halves for another night (you can wrap it up and stick it in the fridge for another day). Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface until it’s the desired thickness you’d like (it will rise a bit in the oven but not much). Set aside to let the dough rise slightly while you prepare the toppings. Also, note that a lot of people claim you should not use a rolling pin to stretch pizza dough because of the air pockets but I have never had problems with the dough not coming out delicious so do whatever you are comfortable with.

In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the fakin’ bacon and cook on each side for about 3 minutes or until it becomes crispy. Remove from heat and slice into little chunks.

Spread a tablespoon of olive oil over the top of the pizza dough and then layer on the mozzarella, tomatoes, bacon, and basil. Finally, crack the eggs and place in four different spots on the pizza. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, checking periodically. Depending on how you like your eggs is how long you will want to cook it- it you like the yolk running then take it out much soon than if you like them hard (just make sure the white parts are for sure cooked before removing!).

Serve with a strong bloody Mary or tequila sunrise.

Moody Monday: Paint Party

June 18, 2012

Well, I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend filled with a surplus of delicious food and play time in the sun. Although my weekends usually consist of a great deal of both those, I actually had a very different type of productive weekend. We received the keys to our new house on Friday which meant all weekend was spent painting and cleaning. Painting is not something I do often and I was surprised to find it rather therapeutic and very satisfying.

The house is exactly what we had wanted. A two bedroom (an extra room for our art studio), a large and fenced in backyard for Tuko, high ceilings and within walking distance to our favorite co-op grocery store. There were, however, some drawbacks – like the hideous dark feather painted walls and the rusted bath tub (with no shower extension?!? I guess the house was built in 1933…); we decided it would be best to tackle these problems before we started actually moving our things in. We managed to pick up some beers, crank up the local classic rock station, and crank out painting three rooms in 2 days. Pretty impressive if I do say so myself.

As for what’s left? We just need to do the kitchen and we’ll be ready to move in! Do I see an Ikea trip in my near future? I think so!

 

Pictured Above: A light mint in the living room to go with these funky 70′s chairs that Wyatt insisted on getting. Checkered tile in the sun room- can’t wait to add some plants for an accent of green. Bedroom has managed to only be filled with my dresser and typewriter. And lastly, Tuko’s new playground (AKA our backyard).

 

I ended the weekend with a corona and some light reading. I HIGHLY recommend Make Your Place for all you DIY (and Zine) lovers out there! Next up? Can’t wait to dig into Barefoot & In The Kitchen and Homesweet Homegrown!

Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadilla

June 14, 2012

So I wanted to talk to you guys about this ‘Food is the New Rock’ podcast. I’m not sure if you are into podcasts but I’ve come to enjoy listening to them while I workout or am laying in my sun-room. I’ve become super into this specific podcast that mixes food and rock music…they show all the similarities and talk a lot about how the two are connected (and then interview chefs about music and musicians about food). This concept is sooooo fantastic for me because I obviously am super into food (having a foodblog and all) but my day job is working at an indie record label distributor…match made in heaven? I think so. If you’re into this sort of thing, I highly recommend checking it out here.

Ah yes, back to recipes! I’m not really sure where this goat cheese and black bean combination came about but I highly approve. I remember my old (old) roommate use to make a similar (and absolutely delicious) taco when I lived with her a years ago. Then I ran across a recipe with the black bean/goat cheese combo a couple of days back which sparked my memory for these ‘dillas. I had remembered really enjoying them but I think my love affair for goat cheese has grown even stronger in the last 3 years; this means these were even more mouthwatering-awesome them I remember.

Since I’ve been trying to use up what is in my pantry/fridge (moving begins TOMORROW), I tweaked this recipe to what I had on hand. I used the leftover chevre from the Veggie Polenta Lasagna and the kick of spice from the jalapeno was tamed perfectly from the smooth cheese. Can’t wait to make these again with some Beergaritas!

 

Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadilla

Makes 2 ‘dillas
  • I can (15 ounce) of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 4 ounces of chevre or goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 4 large tortillas (or 8 small)
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • salt/pepper
  • Olive oil, for cooking

Spread half the cheeses on a tortilla. Top with half the beans, corn, jalapeno and cilantro and then place another tortilla on top. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.

Heat a dollop of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium. Cook the tortillas on each side for about 5 minutes (or until they start to brown).

Serve warm while the cheese is gooey!

 

 

Berry Mango Yogurt Popsicles

June 12, 2012

Okay, I did it. I’m sorry but I totally jumped on the popsicle bandwagon. I realize there are currently 10 billion popsicle recipes circulating the blog world right now but I wanted to add my two cents on the conversation, oookkay?

To be completely honest, what I REALLY wanted this summer was a turquoise ice cream maker to whip up this vegan Salted Caramel Pretzel treat but my boyfriend forbid it; he claimed it would end up in the pile of other specialty kitchen tools (like miniature pie molds, 500 cookie cutters, winter thermos picnic set, donut pan, etc) that we only pull out once or twice a year (although- I love having ALL of these things, thank you very much).

Anyways, I compromised on these popsicle molds because not only are they smaller and cheaper but you can make sooo many healthy summer treats with them! I actually picked them up with the gift card that BakerInRecovery (Formerly Baker Bettie) sent more for my cookie recipe.

Anyhow, I figure since I eat greek yogurt every morning anyways, why not make a popsicle out of it so I have an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast? It’s genius, really! And on top of that, they turned out delicious and I have no guilt at all knowing all the healthy ingredients that goes into them. Mmm! Cannot wait to experiment with other flavors this summer!

Berry Mango Yogurt Popsicles

  • 1 mango, peeled and cut off the pit
  • 1 banana
  • 5 large strawberries, washed and tops cut off
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used coconut flavored but feel free to use whatever)

In a blender, mix all ingredients until well combined. Taste and add more honey if it’s not sweet enough for you.

Pour into popsicle molds and let freeze for 3 to 4 hours.

Enjoy on the humid porch watching the sunset or on your way to work for a delicious breakfast!

Moody Monday: Pool Party Weekend

June 11, 2012

Monday, I cannot believe you are here again already! I feel as though I am starting off the week on an off note because we did not get back from our weekend trip until late last night and I am not prepared for the week. However, this is okay because we had a great time at my parent’s house and going into Chicago for my brother’s graduation.

This week is going to be crazy busy with my etsy shop finally getting rolling, packing, Tuko getting neutered, and more packing. We are (!!!) finally moving into our new house on Friday which means several things for VV:

1. there should be some VERY interesting recipes within the next few days while I attempt to use up what we have in our pantry so we will have less to move into our new place

2. Things may be slow around here (hopefully not) recipe wise as I transition into my new kitchen. However, that may mean posts will be substituted with fun glimpses into our moving/decorating process…which could also be exciting!

Anyhow, hopefully memories of an awesome weekend by the pool (with blueberry cocktails and my amazing family) and having our new home to look forward to will get me through this week!

 

Oh and here is an adorable music video to get you through your morning!

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Weekend Adventure // What’s In My Bag?

June 8, 2012

Hey everyone! Hope that you are having a fantastic friday and getting geared up for the weekend. We are going on ANOTHER weekend trip to Chicago which means pool day tomorrow, sunsets at Lake Michigan, and adventuring in the city on Sunday!

The only drawback to this is that we have to drive 4 hours North first. Luckily, I have my travel bag packed full of supplies! Although this includes cards, CD mixes, and magazines..I will only show you a glimpse of the snacks I am bringing (hey…this is a FOOD blog, after all).

1. Primal Strips. These things are my FAVORITE FAVORITE FAVORITE snack food. They are so freaking delicious! It’s like having teriyaki flavored beef jerky without all those gross thoughts about ‘what really is beef jerky?‘. They come in a variety of flavors (and other brands but none that I have found with as much flavor and appealing texture). This hits my savory craving every time.

2. Hummus! It’s the perfect snack for summer because it’s relatively healthy and very fillings without making you feel bloated. And the variety of flavors are endless!

3. Although I prefer my hummus with warmed pita, unless you are willing to stick the pita on your dashboard to heat up, these pita chips are a pretty darn good substitute. They are super crispy and contrast the smooooooth hummus perfectly.

5. Can’t have all this savory without a bit of sweet! We packed some Pocky for our sweet treat but that is sometimes substituted with homemade muffins or cookies (depending on how much time we have before-hand).

And we’re off! Hope everyone has a wonderfully delicious weekend and we’ll see you Monday!

Polenta and Veggie Lasagna

June 7, 2012

This was one of those recipes that spawned from me standing in front of the pantry going “what can I make for dinner with what I have?”. It’s a rather daunting question and there have been many failed meals that ended in last-minute pizza ordering because of this question. That however, was not the case this time around. Using the basic structure of what you could put in lasagna, I managed to whip up this twist on the famous Italian dish and may never look back.

‘Grits’ was always a bad word for me growing up. I would always have visions of white mush that was pushed out-of-the-way at ‘Crack Barrel’. Polenta, however, was a different story. Polenta meant slices of warm and crusty Italian deliciousness fried up on a skillet by itself or layered out under a pile of cheesy breakfast eggs.

I don’t know exactly how to pin my finger on it but there is something so amazingly satisfying about the comfort of vegetables cooked in olive oil and the savory flavoring of warm polenta. From the very first bite, this recipe pulled at my ‘comfort strings’ and left me craving for leftovers for the rest of the week.

Polenta and Veggie Lasagna

  • 1 cup dried polenta
  • 8 ounces chevre cheese (or goat cheese)
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan
  • 1/8 cup Gouda (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 5 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1- 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • handful of fresh basil or oregano, for garnish
  • salt/pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and cooked the polenta for five minutes. Once cooked, pour onto a cookie sheet lined with tin foil (to create a “sheet” of polenta). Set aside while you prepare the veggies so that it can harden up (or stick in a 350 degree heated oven for about 10 minutes if you want your polenta a little crispy- this will also help it harden faster!).

In a large skillet (or saucepan), heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions and cook for about five minutes or until they begin to soften. Add in the garlic and cook for another two minutes.

Next, add in the pepper, zucchini, celery, and carrots. Cook for about 15 minutes or until everything has softened up.

In a small bowl, whisk together the stock and tomato paste until well combined. Add to the cooking veggies and bring to simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture has become very thick. Season with salt and pepper.


To assemble: Grease the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan. Cut the polenta in half and place a sheet of it snuggly in the bottom of the pan. Using half the goat cheese/chevre, spread a layer of it on top of the polenta. Next, layer on half of the veggie mixture. Repeat with another layer of polenta, chevre, and veggies. Finally, top with gouda, parmesan and fresh basil/oregano.

Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until everything is heated throughout.

Serve warm with garlic bread or by itself! Enjoy while watching an episode of ‘Mad Men’ or listening to your favorite David Bowie album.

PS You should consider following me on Facebook for updates about new posts! I am currently trying to branch out with my social network skills!

Tuko Turns .5: DIY Doggy Biscuits

June 6, 2012

Although we have only had Tuko (also sometimes referred to as Taco, Teekee, and Tofu) for 4 months, I can hardly remember not having the little guy around. He is always right there whimpering for attention, sleeping in my lap, licking my face, or begging to go outside. Although he was a real handful at first, he has already mellowed greatly since the bewildered puppy that first arrived at our door step from the farm-like upbringing he was born into.

Although this is a bit late, he turned 6 months last week and I felt like we had to celebrate his excelled maturity in some way….so I made him some dog biscuits! I thought about cutting them out with cookie cutters and finding a frosting recipe but he was whimpering for me to play with him the whole time I was making these things. Needless to say, I figured my attention to him was more important than making his next snack look pretty.

Anyways, these treats are SUPER easy to make and I really like the concept of knowing exactly what is going into his food. He doesn’t need to be eating that processed stuff any more than we do.

DIY Doggie Biscuits

originally from Dog Treat Kitchen

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredient together. Add in the peanut butter and slowly add in the warm water while mixing together.

Roll out into 1 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for an hour to firm up.

Feed to your puppy as a reward, for a snack, or just to see the excited tail wag!

Summer Potato Salad

June 5, 2012

I finally (!!) made it to the Farmer’s Market this weekend for the first time in a month. Oh, what a wonderful experience! Last time I went there was loads of vegetable and herb plants but not so much actual produce yet. But this time…this time there were endless rows of fresh basil, lettuce, spinach, beans, strawberries, potatoes, scallions, local honey, and homemade cheeses. What a beautiful site! (sorry- I get a little over excited about these things! I mean…I did work at a co-op grocery store for a few years so this is obviously the type of thing I like to surround myself with). Anyways, I restrained and only snatched up some cherry tomatoes, red potatoes, and green beans (well.. and a delicious broiche from a local bakery but that’s besides the point).

So it came as no surprise that I immediately wanted to whip something up with my new and fresh produce! We were having people over for a grill out later that day and it seemed only appropriate I made potato salad with my new goodies. This is actually a really funny statement because I have only made potato salad a total of (maybe) 3 times before. I LOVE potato salad but for some reason, I am always trying to find new and interesting recipes to cook up instead of experimenting with the traditional classics.

Of course, knowing me, I started to immediately search around for vegan and “healthified” versions of potato salad. However, I saw Wyatt’s face drop when I mentioned making this salad without ‘mayo’; that was when I decided that sometimes you just have to make a recipe the way you remember it as a child. End of discussion.

This recipe was an outcome of all the favorite things I remember biting into when eating potato salad  as a child. It was a bit of an experiment but well worth jumping into the unknown. It turned out fantastic- maybe even BETTER than I remember it growing up. Feel free to add more (or less!) of whatever you prefer and make ahead of time (if possible) so the flavors can mend together in the fridge for an hour or so!

Summer Potato Salad

  • 2 pounds red potatoes
  • 1 pound of green beans, trimmed
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/8 cup chopped sweet pickles
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • Salt/Pepper

Bring both a large pot and a medium saucepan to a boil with salted water. Place the potatoes in the large pot and the green beans in the saucepan. Let the potatoes boil for about 15 to 20 minutes or until you can easily pierce a fork through them. Cook green beans for about 10 minutes or until they are softened. Drain both the beans and potatoes and set aside to cool. When cool enough, chop the potatoes into large chunks and the beans (if they are super long).

Hard boil the eggs any method you prefer (I just stick them in a small saucepan full of water and let the water come to a boil. Once rapidly boiling, I remove them from the heat and let sit in the warm water for about 12 minutes.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the chopped goodies! Next, fold in the mayo, celery seeds, and mustard. Season (generously) with salt and pepper.

Stick in the fridge until it’s munch time!

Moody Monday: Exploring Cedar Bluffs

June 4, 2012

Well good morning! It’s Monday again and to make matters worse- it’s super gloomy and rainy as well! Gross. Let’s talk about happier things…like the weekend! Okay?

Anyways,this weekend was the first time in about a month that we were not out of town for it and it was perfect. I spent most of Saturday in the kitchen cooking (much needed therapy cooking session- felt like it had been forever) followed by a grill out with a couple of our friends. And then on Sunday we took a hike at Cedar Bluff which was absolutely beautiful. This small hike gives you a bit of everything- stroll in the woods, walk along a creek, and climbing up some huge limestone mounds to reveal a great view!

We had originally planned to go to the lake on Sunday but we go to the lake a lot and I was feeling like exploring. I’ve lived in Bloomington for almost five years now (eep!) and I use to explore all the time. We have gorgeous lakes, forests, and waterfalls surrounding the area and yet we always seem to go to the same spots for leisure activity. Yesterday reminded me how fun it is to explore a new spot and do a fun little day trip.

 

 

Oh! And I knocked two things off of my goal list this weekend!

7. Get my Etsy shop up and running

8. Make Homemade dog biscuits for Tuko

Done and done!

Dinner Picnic Part 2: Southwestern Veggie Sliders with Avocado Mayo

June 1, 2012

Continuing on with our discussion from Dinner Picnic Part 1, let’s chat about the main course! I don’t know about you guys but for me summer means sangria, grill outs, picnics, and veggie burgers. I love Morningstar’s Black Bean Burgers when I am in a hurry but I find too much processed food to be a big no-no for my diet. This has led me to experimenting loads with veggie burgers and often times ending up with negative outcomes. I mean, I understand what kind of veggie combination I enjoy but getting the correct consistency with a veggie patty is wayyyy harder than you’d think! I’ve made sweet potato burgers which where so mushy that I should have served them as mashed potatoes and I’ve made really damn good chickpea burgers (but I had to have them sit in the fridge overnight to firm up – very time consuming). After many discouraging endeavors, I discovered the perfect ratio between vegetables, beans, and the ingredients that mend everything together (with a bit of help from this recipe).

These sliders are going to be my new go-to burgers when it comes to grilling. Not only is the patty absolutely delicious and stays together firmly, but the avocado mayo is amazing lathered on it them (and on pretty much everything else you happen to be serving!).

Southwestern Veggie Sliders with Avocado Mayo

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drain and thoroughly rinsed
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup salsa OR salsa verde
  • olive oil, for cooking
  • 12 Hawaiian rolls
  • pepper jack cheese, sliced

For the avocado mayo:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 or so minutes or until they start to soften. Add the bell pepper and saute for another two or so minutes.

Remove from heat and add to a large mixing bowl. Add the corn, carrot, black beans, bread crumbs, and cornmeal. Fold in salsa until everything is combined.

Divide the mixture into 12 equal parts and form patties. Heat another 2 Tablespoons of olive over medium heat and cook each side of the patty for about (depending on how hot your skillet gets) 2 minutes on each side.

To make the sauce: mash together the avocado, mayo, garlic, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

To assemble: Slice each roll in half. Lather the avocado mayo on the bottom with a slice of cheese and then stick the patty on. Feel free to top with tomatoes, lettuce, or whatever else you’d like. Enjoy warm and on a beautiful porch or blanket outside!

PS Or feel free to cook these on the grill outside as well!

May Wrap Up

May 31, 2012

Woah, can you believe it is the last day of May already? This month FLEW by!! Luckily it was because I was having so much fun over here.

Here is a wrap up of my favorite recipes from this month:

 

1. Veggie Sloppy Joes. These brought a whole new meaning to what I thought a sloppy joe could be. They were flavorful, stocked full of nutritious ingredients, and oh so easy to whip up! This is becoming one of my new ‘go to’ recipes for sure

2. Cherry Beergaritas: It’s a bit embarrassing how many times we’ve whipped these up since discovering this cocktail. It’s ridiculously refreshing on a hot summer day and the simplest drink to mix up when you have a crowd!

3. Tofu Thai Lettuce Wraps: These wraps are as fun to eat as they are delicious. We ate them on the porch so that we didn’t make a mess but assembling them is half the fun!

4. Summer Pasta Dish: there is nothing better than fresh produce being the reason a dish stands out so much. This pasta dish is light, colorful, and packed full of flavor.

 

As for favorite adventure this month? Well, I would say it would HAVE to be our trip out West (or..well, maybe Graduating- that is kind of a big deal as well!)

My biggest lust this month? I am crazy about these Chasing Delicious posters that tell you when fruit//veggies//herbs are in season. Would those not be adorable//useful hanging in the kitchen??

Well, enough looking back! How about what we have in store for June?! I am very very excited for this month; Wyatt and I move into our new home (expect lots of pictures updates of the remodeling process!), my brother is graduating from Grad School (which means road trip to Chicago), and I am just too excited for all the new things I will be learning from the Blogging Your Way E-course which starts tomorrow!

Dinner Picnic Part 1: Southwestern Inspired Quinoa Salad

May 30, 2012

Well Memorial weekend has come and gone which means summer is officially in full swing. To me, this means fresh produce and delicious salads! I am not a big fan of having just a salad as a meal but I do love them as a side and to compliment my main entrees. I am particularly fond of grain salads (wheat berry, quinoa, polenta, oh my!) so please let me know if I begin to get carried away in the coming months!

On Monday we piled 5 people, a dog, and a grill into my roommate’s tiny civic and off we went to spend the afternoon at the lake. It was 90 and sunny here in Bloomington so the water could have never felt better! I whipped this salad up to go with our grilled goods; what made me think to make this one was that I didn’t want a mayo based salad sitting in the heat all day! So I turned to my flavorful quinoa salad that doesn’t’ need to be lathered in thick dressing to be flavorful. This salad is lime juice based which means a little sun won’t hurt anything!


Also, I made a double recipe so that we would have leftovers for the week. Since I was just not into getting back to routine, I made Wyatt (and Tuko!) have a dinner picnic with me last night in our favorite garden. The main course recipe is coming in a post later this week (stay tuned!) but we had this salad again as a side. Such perfect picnic fare!

Southwestern Inspired Quinoa Salad

adapted from Mom De Cuisine
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno, chopped (use less if you don’t like spicy)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt/pepper
  • cilantro, for garnish

Cook quinoa according to package directions (if no directions- wash thoroughly with cold water and then boil the quinoa for about 15 minutes or until soft).

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.

Once the quinoa has cooled completely, combine the quinoa, bell pepper, black beans, corn, jalapeno, and onions in a large mixing bowl. Fold in the whisked dressing.

Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving so that all the flavors can mend together deliciously. Serve cool and while at a picnic/grill out!


Summer Pasta: Pesto Linguine with Spinach, Edamame, Lime, and Toasted Pecans

May 29, 2012

I am both excited and a bit embarrassed to admit that I am about as nerdy as they come! Not even two weeks into finishing up my 16 years of schooling, I signed up for another class! Luckily, it’s an online blogging course put on by Decor8! I am so excited to expand my blogging skills and see what new thing I can absorb from this. I already have so many goals for VV this summer that I am hoping this course will push me to reach in ways I would have not thought of otherwise. If you’d like to learn more about it (or become my classmate! haha), hop on over to Blogging Your Way.

Anyhow, back to the point at hand: easy pasta dish! This dish has it all – protein from the edamame, nutrients from the fresh spinach (and maybe-sorta the corn?), and energy packed into the whole wheat pasta and pecans. Not to mention it’s delicious, colorful, and can be made in under 15 minutes. What more do you want? Yeah, maybe some garlic bread and red wine but those things are so easily solvable as well!

I whipped this up for a date night we had a few days back because when you are planing to spend your whole evening with that special cutie, who wants to waste the first two hours slaving away in the kitchen? Although, if its a FIRST date, I might recommend holding off on the garlic bread (or bringing a toothbrush!- just sayin’).

Summer Pasta

  • 8 ounces of linguine
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 4 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups edamame, cooked according to package
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, cooked according to package
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice

Prepare the linguine according to the package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, add the chopped pecans to a small skillet. Saute on low for 5 to 10 minutes or until they are toasted.

Drain the pasta and toss with the pesto and lime juice. Fold in the edamame and corn. And finally, top with the toasted pecans!

Serve with garlic bread (I just took two pitas and put butter/crushed garlic on top and stuck it under the broiler for a few minutes) and red wine!

Done!

No Moody Monday

May 28, 2012

Good Morning! No Mood here! We spent the last two days up north visiting Wyatt’s parents. It was a very relaxing break from the usual routine. We went to their local farmer’s market, visited a very cool music store (that we, at work, distribute to!), took naps in the hammock, drank margaritas, grilled out, and had a bonfire. A perfect first half to Memorial weekend!

Indiana

Well, I am off to make a quinoa salad for a grill out at the lake today. Be back tomorrow with the usual (and delicious) recipe posts! Have a great Monday!